Environmental threats—such as heat, moisture, power, smoke, and tampering—constitute a significant cause of data center downtime. According to a recent ITIC survey, a single hour of downtime could cost over $300,000 in lost business, which means you can’t afford to ignore the environmental risks in your data center.
Let’s discuss the most prominent environmental threats you need to prepare for, and how data center environmental monitoring can help you prevent expensive outages by detecting disasters before they strike.
What are the environmental risks in your data center?
When you host critical infrastructure in a data center or colocation facility, you may not be able to physically view your equipment or sense the conditions in your cabinet. This is especially true for highly distributed networks in which critical remote infrastructure resides in small data centers hundreds or thousands of miles away from your IT team’s headquarters. However, that infrastructure is still vulnerable to environmental damage, including:
A data center appliance—like a switch, router, or console server—generally has an optimal temperature range in which it will operate most efficiently. Keeping the environment in your data center within that temperature range will reduce the energy consumption of your appliances and help control power costs. However, the significant risk with temperature is overheating beyond just rising electricity bills. If the temperature in the data center increases beyond acceptable limits due to an AC unit failure, your critical infrastructure could overheat and malfunction. Detecting temperature fluctuations before systems overheat is thus crucial to preventing outages and costly equipment failures.
Moisture (from atmospheric humidity, water leaks, etc.) is essentially kryptonite to your data center infrastructure. When moisture collects in or on your appliances, it can cause corrosion, shorts, and component failures. It is important that you keep data center humidity within acceptable limits and monitor for moisture within your cabinet.
All data center equipment, including your appliances, climate controls, and physical security devices (biometric scanners, CCTV cameras, etc.), require consistent and uninterrupted power. It’s important to monitor the flow of current coming into your facility, cabinet, or rack so you can detect outages as soon as possible and enable backup measures or an orderly shutdown.
While data center fires may be rare, smoke is a more common risk to your critical infrastructure, and can also be the first warning sign of another serious issue. For example, an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) may overheat and generate smoke, which can damage the sensitive internal components of your appliances and/or give you advanced warning that a power outage is about to occur.
When you have critical infrastructure hosted at a remote colocation facility, you need to prevent and detect unauthorized access to your equipment. Physical security controls like cabinet locks, CCTV cameras, and biometric doors will deter most malicious actors. However, you also need to be notified whenever your cabinet door is opened or closed if someone makes it past these barriers and accesses your equipment without authorization.
Your critical data center infrastructure is at risk from various environmental threats. Still, you may not have on-site staff available to monitor the conditions in your cabinet physically. That’s why you need a comprehensive data center environmental monitoring solution to prevent a disaster from causing expensive downtime.
Data center environmental monitoring prevents disaster before it strikes
A robust data center environmental monitoring solution consists of three key components:
- Environmental sensors to collect data on the conditions in your cabinet. For example, the Nodegrid environmental monitoring solution includes sensors for temperature, humidity, airflow, particulates, smoke, and more.
- A serial console server to connect those sensors to your data center infrastructure. A high-density serial console like Nodegrid gives you the ability to monitor and manage up to 96 devices in a single 1U appliance.
- A data center infrastructure management (DCIM) solution provides central management and analysis of your environmental data. For instance, ZPE Cloud gives you a powerful, web-based dashboard from which to monitor all your environmental sensors as well as manage your entire data center infrastructure.
A complete data center environmental monitoring solution like Nodegrid gives you all the tools you need to optimize the conditions in your rack and detect potential issues before they cause downtime.